The other night I was listening to our oldest child read the Bible text for our monthly Bible trivia challenge. She was sitting in our living room with her Mama who was helping her work though some of the bigger words. At one point our daughter kept reading a word and my wife kept asking her, “What’s that word?” She was reading from 1 Thessalonians 2:18…
Therefore we wanted to come to you—even I, Paul, time and again—but Satin hindered us.
I’m not a big fan of satin or Satan. After about three rounds of saying “satin,” our daughter looked at the context and realized the word was Satan. It was a little reminder that some of the language of the Bible can be challenging…even the things that seem pretty obvious to us. There are BIG concepts in God’s Word and some of the ideas require abstract thinking, such as eternity, etc. But I can tell you with certainty, even the youngest of children can grasp the basic message that God left for His followers.
Another example… This week I had to take my beloved Macbook Pro laptop to the Apple Store because something was wrong with it. My computer was limping along and I had run all the troubleshooting that I knew to do, or could find on Google. It was time for an expert! In fact, Apple calls their experts geniuses.
At the Apple “Genius Bar” I was greeted by a genius who was refreshingly geeky looking. (I like my tech people to look the part.) I had written down all the things I had tested on the system so he knew what issues we could rule out. The genius appreciated my list and said, “It is good to work with someone who speaks the language.”
While the computer was running a test he told me about some of the more humorous incidents of people bringing computers in and saying things like, “It won’t run.” He would fire up their computer, log in, bring up a program, and ask them what they meant by “It won’t run” since the computer was obviously running. His probing revealed that the computer in question wouldn’t “run” on the internet. The owner of the computer knew exactly what they meant in their mind, but the message didn’t clearly transfer because they weren’t using the same language.
Whether I am teaching my own kids, the teens at church, or a peer, I am constantly reminded that I need to make sure the message is communicated clearly. The language of faith that I have known for most of my life is a bit different for those who are just learning or have never heard it before.
Most communication experts believe that a message has to be heard anywhere from 3 to 6 times before it is clearly communicated. That doesn’t mean simply repeating the message over and over. With children and adults alike, seeing, hearing, or experiencing a message in different ways helps us to understand it better. And with most folks, helping them identify “what’s in it for me” can help them embrace the message of change.
With our kids I am constantly challenged to find the right words, the age appropriate message, for communicating to them about God. Sometimes the misunderstandings are pleasantly humorous but my wife and I strive everyday to find ways to communicate God’s message of love and hope to our children through our words and actions. I hope that you embrace the challenge and learn the language of God’s message and share it with your own children and others.
Due to my technical issues I didn’t get a post up last week so you get a bonus round of Written On My Heart this week. I appreciate all your good work!